The term marketing conjures up a variety of things. To many, it means advertising, publicity or maybe lead generation. But promotion is only one marketing mix element. Since the key objective of your company’s marketing efforts is to develop satisfying relationships with customers, it involves every aspect of your company, not just communication. So what ingredients are you missing?
The 7 P’s of Marketing
While product, place, promotion and price (the 4 P’s) are certainly key ingredients in your marketing mix, I would argue that there are three more: people, processes, and physical evidence. Focusing on a few and ignoring the others can cost you sales and profit, especially in service companies.
Since 80% of small or medium companies are SERVICE businesses, you likely need all seven ingredients working together to create a pipeline of quality prospects and build a base of loyal, profitable customers. Here’s how you can fill the gaps in your marketing.
The products (or services) you offer must solve a need or pain for your target customers. That’s obvious. The right features, ease of use, packaging, and other benefits also matter. But what makes them different or unique? How can you and your ideal customers benefit from product diversification? These two areas are often overlooked but are a great way to maximize profit and revenue, reduce risk and better meet the needs of your target customers.
In your marketing mix, place refers to distribution, providing a convenient way for customers to access your products or services. For some, this may be local retail or commercial space. It can also include online delivery through your website or another third party site like Amazon. Wholesalers and distributors, resellers, other retailers and strategic partners also provide a channel to reach more customers. And of course, franchising is yet another option. There are a lot of ways to get your products and services to customers. Look beyond the most obvious.
This includes all the ways you communicate information about your products or services to prospects, customers, channel partners, and alliances. Promotion comprises elements such as advertising, public relations, sales promotion, digital marketing and your sales organization! The purpose is to (a) deliver the message or promise to others, (b) get them to take action and (c) build relationships that eventually turn into sales and repeat business!
Most businesses recognize the need and value of promotion. But it starts with a budget and marketing plan to support all the important relationships that impact sales, not just new prospects. The plan includes what you will do, when you will do it and what it will cost. Since you don’t have an unlimited budget, here are two suggestions to get the most from your marketing. First, choose the tactics that put you in front of your target, not necessarily what everyone else does. Second, focus on profitable and unique products and services, not all of them.
When pricing your products or services, you certainly want to know and understand your costs, what competitors charge, standard industry mark-up and the value to the customer. But often overlooked is the relationship of price, value and product positioning (such as quality, convenience or low cost). Keep them aligned to avoid confusion. For more on this topic, check out my article, 6 Common Pricing Mistakes
The employees or sub-contractors who sell your products or execute your service impact the success of your marketing. Do they have the skills necessary to do their job well? Can they solve problems and perform quality work each and every time? They are a direct reflection on you and your business. So choose wisely, invest the time to train and develop them and keep them in the communication loop.
Your promotion activities communicate the promise, what customers can expect. Physical evidence is a way to demonstrate how you do this. It reinforces or supports your claims for service, quality, convenience and more. It reduces the perceived risk for customers. There are a variety of ways to do this. Online reviews, testimonials, guarantees, customer satisfaction scores, quality assurance programs, certifications and post-sale surveys are just a few common ones. Look to support your claims and your messages will be far more compelling.
The systems and procedures that impact the execution of your sales and service delivery are often overlooked. But they impact both new and repeat business. From initial contact to delivery and billing, each step in the process is an opportunity to create a positive or negative buying experience. Don’t ignore this area and the effect it has on your marketing results.
The Bonus P
Profit. It’s your reward for excellence in marketing that comes from mixing the ingredients just right.
Remember, marketing is more than just a website, ads, mailers or social media posts. So start asking the right questions and take action to fill the gaps before you invest more money in promotion activities. By building a stronger foundation, you really will get more from your marketing budget.